How to get faulty washing machine exchanged

Angry-customer-2 This article looks at our consumer rights related to washing machines (or any other appliances) which break down soon after purchase. It looks at it from both customer and retailer points of view. Before jumping in and angrily demanding a replacement it’s best to try and look at the subject objectively and see the full picture.

I don’t want my washing machine repaired – I want it exchanged

This is a common demand, which often causes conflict between consumers and retailers. If a washing machine breaks down soon after purchase, or suffers more than one fault, many customers believe they are entitled to refuse an engineer and demand an exchange. However, this is not always the case.

Is the washing machine really faulty?

Make sure there is a fault on the washer which is not caused by faulty installation or a user fault. Check the list over on the right column (if on a mobile device the side column is displayed at the bottom), which shows 9 examples of “faults” which aren’t washing machine faults at all, and are caused by installation or user errors. You can be charged if it turns out to be one of these faults.

They are not going to just exchange it without sending an engineer to check it first

Once you’ve read the list mentioned above you can see why it’s highly unlikely anyone will exchange a washing machine simply because it’s reported faulty. There are so many alternative explanations it’s almost certain an engineer will need to inspect and confirm it is genuinely faulty before doing anything else.

But what if the washing machine IS faulty, can I insist on an exchange?

If the washing machine is genuinely faulty you can request your money back if you stop using it and reject it, "within a reasonable time". However, what’s reasonable to you is sometimes different to what’s reasonable to a retailer or even a small claims court judge. If the fault hasn’t occurred almost immediately you may find the retailer reluctant to talk about replacing it. Some major retailers do have exchange policies where they will swap the machine within the first 28 days without much hassle although this has nothing to do with any consumer rights, and is just a commercial good will policy decision. (It does offer some extra reassurance though when buying).

The sooner a fault occurs the more likely a retailer will exchange it. Usually, after roughly a month they tend to get very reluctant. If a substantial fault occurs within the first 6 months you have a better chance of getting it exchanged because (as described below) the Sale of Goods Act says faults within the first 6 months are inherent, and must have been present when sold unless the retailer can prove otherwise.

Should you complain the manufacturer?

Under UK consumer law the manufacturer is not responsible. Only the retailer who sold it has any obligation regarding faulty goods. A manufacturer has an obligation to honour their guarantee, but they have no obligation to exchange faulty appliances, and of course can’t possibly give you your money back because you gave it to the retailer not them. Some manufacturers will get involved, and sometimes offer to exchange a machine but this is purely a gesture. If they do offer something acceptable that’s fine, but if they don’t, remember the retailer is bound by the Sale of Goods act and it’s them you should be negotiating with.

Retailers can sometimes insist on repairing – not replacing an appliance

Rejected Automatically rejecting a washing machine over any fault is not necessarily a good idea. If it breaks down the first time you use it (or within a short time of buying it) it’s common to instinctively want to reject it. As customers, we often appear to undergo a psychological rejection of goods, which is not based on any logic. It’s almost as if the washing machine is cursed and doomed to constant failure so it must be got rid of. Try not to lose sight of the fact that any product can develop a fault, but it doesn’t mean there is something seriously wrong with it and that it will never stop breaking down. Bear in mind that a minor repair may  be considerably more convenient for all concerned including yourself. What’s the point for example of going through all the hassle of getting a washing machine exchanged if it can be fixed in 5 minutes with hardly any effort?

Also bear in mind that a retailer can insist on a repair if they can show that replacing the appliance is disproportionately more expensive than a repair – though probably not not if the product is faulty from the start and you want to reject it. Some faults can be pretty minor and hardly warrant a total rejection. Because the Sale of Goods Act gives us the right to reject a faulty product but also gives retailers a right to repair it if it only has a minor fault it’s often a stalemate, which at times, only a small claims court can decide on.

Faults within the first 6 months are deemed to have been present when sold

A new amendment to consumer law in 2002 shifts the burden of proof of fault from the consumer to the seller within the first 6 months. This means if a fault occurs within 6 months, it is automatically assumed that the goods were "inherently faulty" unless the seller can prove otherwise. This is as good as saying if a new part can't last a mere 6 months, it must have been faulty (or of sub-standard quality) when it was fitted to the washing machine and it was therefore sold with a fault.

You can request a replacement, or a refund though they may try to give a partial refund, which takes into account the fact that you’ve had some use from it. An example of this could be if your washing machine works fine after purchase, but 5 months later the motor, or main PCB fails. You could argue that under the sale of goods act, this part must have been faulty when sold (inherent fault). Therefore you can reject the washing machine and negotiate a refund. However, it may make more sense to just get it repaired if it’s only minor and can be done quickly.

Why are retailers so reluctant to exchange a faulty appliance?

This could be why – Is the sale of goods act too hard on retailers?

The sale of goods act

Some people think that because the sale of goods act gives us up to 6 years (5 in Scotland) to claim compensation this means we have a claim any time it breaks down within the 6 years – wrong. Read this article here – Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances?

Don’t miss all the related information which is part of this article on the right column (or below if using a mobile browser)
More Consumer resources

I have a lot of consumer articles you might find interesting and helpful here – Appliance consumer issues main section Also, check out the free (official) advice from consumer groups that I have researched below.

Which? Consumer Advice special offer

Please note: I’m not a consumer expert, the advice in my consumer advice section is my personal opinion based on a week long study on the subject coupled with my 30 years experience in the trade.

Which? are a great source of independent consumer advice and product reviews and you can benefit from their highly respected opinions and experience online – Get a full 1 month trial offer for just £1 – (Why take out a Which? 1 month trial?)

Free downloadable booklets from The Citizens Advice Bureau website
Free downloadable booklets from The Office of Fair Trading website

Remember, if you are buying your washing machine from home, perhaps over the internet or through a mail-order catalogue, you have additional rights.

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  1. avatarNik says


    I am interested in your advice.

    Curry’s delivered a washing machine that leaked the first time I used it. It was a Hoover D8PX and the rubber bung on the hose at the front next to the filter cap was not present. It spilled the entire loads worth of water all over my laundry room and into a cellar area below. There is quite a lot of water damage to the floor, walls and ceiling below the washing machine.

    They have accepted that they sold me faulty goods and the new machine is being delivered today. Are they liable for the damage done to my house?


  2. avatar says

    I would have thought definitely, within reason. If the damage was particularly severe they might question how because the water should have come out within seconds and so you’d expect it would be stopped and the water mopped up. This could still be enough to damage laminate flooring etc. but I suppose it depends how much the claim is for as to whether they think it’s reasonable or not.

    Often companies try to get people to claim on their house insurance, which is out of order really. They have insurance called product liability and they should claim on theirs.

    Let me know how you get on as it might make a useful and interesting article.

  3. avatarFrances says

    Excellent information just what I needed! I bought a new Siemens wash machine & within 8 weeks it emitted the most terrible smell like drains!! On Siemens advice I did several 90* washes only for the smell to come back 3 weeks later! I repeated the process again then the smell returned after 6 wks! In all I’ve lost count of how many 90* washes I’ve done with soda crystals!
    Yesterday I took the clothes out of the machine to find them spotty with black oil marks!!! The machine was purchased in March so machine is not yet 5 mths old!!
    The engineer is coming next Wednesday so I’m without a machine till then. Whatever happens I will ask for a new machine and different make!!

  4. avatarA says


    We bought a Hoover washing machine and around 7/8 months later it had to have the heater replaced after it was causing an e03 error. We have had an engineer out twice since then for the same e03 error and are now having to arrange our 4th visit in a month to get this sorted.

    This as you can imagine is massively inconvenient and we have lost more money than the machine is worth in having to take the days off work.

    They are still refusing to replace it without an engineer seeing it again. Which will mean IF he approves it we will then have to take more days off to have the replacement installed.

    We have requested for them to just replace it. No luck.

    Any advice?

    The machine is clearly faulty and nothing the engineers do can seem to stop it doing it again. Which means we have to manually remove wet clothes from the machine and dry them and then go about arranging the engineer again.

  5. avatar says

    Very frustrating. It is normal for a retailer to insist on an engineer diagnosing the fault before authorising any exchange to make absolutely sure what has gone wrong and that it is nothing to do with misuse in any way. It does sound like it may have gone again, though I’ve never heard of a heating element going so often, that’s very unusual indeed. Quite a few error codes have more than one possible cause. All of my Hoover codes give E03 as being a timeout on pump, which could be several things including something stuck in the pump filter. Only their dishwashers give E03 as being related to the heater, maybe they have changed on later machines machines.

    Unfortunately retailers absolutely hate Exchanging appliances unless it is within the first week or so. If the manufacturer doesn’t agree to exchange in the machine the retailer will have to foot the bill and they are understandably extremely reluctant to do this even though they are often obliged to under the sale of goods act.

  6. avatarMrsB says

    Bought a washer dryer from John Lewis about 4 years ago and it has already stopped working (not coming on) what are my chances of getting it replaced given that John Lewis are supposed to pride themselves on good customer service and quality products?

  7. avatar says

    After 4 years it’s highly unlikely that anyone would exchange an appliance. Even if they conceded they had liabilities under the sale of goods act they would only be obliged to repair it, or if it was unrepairable they’d be able to knock off the 4 years you’ve had use of the washer in any refund.

    It will depend on exactly what has gone wrong as to whether or not you have a claim under the sale of goods act, which allows for the fact that products can and do break down due to wear – especially ones like washing machines that are very mechanical.

    If something relatively minor has failed it may be judged to be reasonable that such things happen. The sale of goods act gives us up to 6 years (5 in Scotland) to make a claim but it doesn’t say there is a 6 year guarantee (Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances?).

    On the other hand, if something really expensive has gone, especially anything that makes it beyond economical repair then depending on how much it cost and how its been used it might be judged to have not lasted a reasonable time.

  8. avatarJohn Rodgers says

    Brought a washing machine from John Lewis 9 months ago, when first used it had a slight pump noise, this slowly got worse to the point of being really noisy, I have a 2 year guarantee from John Lewis and a 5 year one from Panasonic, engineer arrived said it was a noisy pump and ordered another one, a week later new one fitted, after he left I put some washing on and the noise returned, also noticed he had scratch the machine when replacing the rubber seal with screwdriver’s! and I found a screw next to the machine, second engineer came out but the fault could not be repeated, one week later it’s back intermittently called John Lewis and an engineer coming out this week any advice? I have recorded the noise, but John Lewis and Panasonic state they can not open file.

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